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The Alphabet Book
Can the small Kalash tribe in Afghanistan survive after the introduction of an alphabet?
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2009 06:56 GMT



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Along the porous spine between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kalash people are struggling to maintain their ancient pagan traditions and way of life while surrounded by fervent Islamic communities.

According to legend, the 4000 remaining Kalash are descended from Alexander the Great's armies, who passed through the region on their way from Greece to India thousands of years ago.

Kalash legends, like this one, have always been told the old fashioned way: through stories and songs passed orally through the generations. But unlike many great storytelling cultures, the Kalash have never committed a single story to paper. Why? Because they can not, they have no alphabet. Until now.

Taj Khan is one of the first members of the Kalasha tribe to leave the Valleys seeking an education. Drawn by the legend of his ancestry, Taj now lives and studies in Greece while working in an internet café to send money home to his family.

In an effort to preserve his heritage, Taj has helped to create an alphabet for his people's oral language, and, with the help of a Greek NGO, he publishes "The Alphabet Book," a small primer that can be used to teach this new alphabet to the Kalash children.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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